Matryoshka Off-Limits Chapter 45

Chapter 45 Big Factory

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“I’m…” Wen Shi hadn’t even managed to come up with a lie yet when he suddenly recalled Jian Qingrong pushing a crate of living creatures earlier that day. It occurred to him that there could be one of Qingrong’s spies in Workshop Three watching him as he entered the archives room.

Outside the archives room, plastic pipes embedded in the wall coil around a monstrous body resembling a snake. Ascending along the pipes were more nauseatingly grotesque creatures, all fixated on the faint glow emanating from the archives room.

“I’m patrolling. I just reached the archives room.”

The person on the phone probably didn’t expect him to admit it directly. The voice was low and husky, with a hint of unusual interest, “There are rumors of ghosts there, so be careful.”

Wen Shi walked to the window and saw that the road was empty, except for the emergency broadcast poles. Strangely, he felt as if someone was watching him.

He blinked. Wen Shi changed his posture, leaning lazily against the windowsill. He reached out as if trying foolishly to touch the moonlight in the sky. He didn’t answer directly but asked back, “I’m thinking, if I agree to take care of someone whom others believe is imaginary, how can I prove that he once existed?”

【Warning: Jian Qingrong’s liking for you +10.】

At the door, the teenager silently watched Wen Shi’s immersive performance. He felt a hundred percent of the sadness in his eyes.

On the other side, Jian Qingrong seemed to pause for a moment. He had never heard such melodramatic words before. After a brief moment, he said, “I’ve left a gift for you in the inspection area.”

The communication was interrupted.

Wen Shi listened to the beeping busy tone and shook his head. “Heartless.”

He opened a small booklet and checked off a ‘√’ in a small box behind the archives room.

Almost at the same time, a notification sound rang:

【Dedicated night shift security guard, congratulations on completing the patrol of the archives room. You’ve earned an official employee badge*1 and a paper scrap*1 (memories of former employees about how to go to the sanatorium).】

The scrap only had two words: shuttle bus.

Immediately, another line of information appeared automatically:

【Big Factory Shuttle Bus: Big Factory is in a remote area, with only one bus per day, and it’s often not on time. To facilitate the daily travels of official employees, Big Factory provides an employee shuttle bus. Perhaps you need to find out the departure time.】

The writing on the employee badge had become blurry, which meant one could disguise themselves as an official employee to board the shuttle bus.

Wen Shi kept the employee badge and motioned with his finger for Old Zhao and his son to follow him.

Old Zhao tightly clung to the filing cabinet.

Over a hundred pairs of unfriendly eyes stared at them. Wen Shi asked with a strong demeanor, “Not willing?”

Old Zhao quickly grabbed his son from under the table. “No, no, I’m just too happy! Too excited!”

The reason Wen Shi wanted Old Zhao and his son to stay was simple. The residents on the sixth floor weren’t invincible. As time passed, their physical condition would likely decline. To be prepared, they needed fresh blood to replace them.

The teenagers assisted methodically, selecting twenty people from the residents. “You guys stay here. Two hours later, if you can’t hold on, you can leave on your own.”

Without the administrator and his son, it was like giving away a patrol point for nothing. He wouldn’t let others pick his Big Brother’s peaches.

As the residents weakened, the number of ghosts would continue to increase.

Old Zhao and his son were unaware that a chilling aura was gradually emanating from them, and this cold sensation was steadily intensifying. Initially borrowing them for two hours, and later returning them. By then, when others come to check the patrol point, they will be confronted by two fierce ghosts.

“Shall we go?” the teenager asked.

Wen Shi looked at the small booklet without saying a word and nodded after a long while.

Jian Qingrong said he left a gift in the inspection area. The next patrol point he was supposed to go to was also the inspection area. Such a coincidence couldn’t exist in the world. He became more convinced that there were spies of Jian Qingrong among the monsters in Workshop Three.

“Urgent notice!”

Suddenly, urgent alarms blared outside, not just in Workshop Three, but the beeping sound covered the entire factory.

“Urgent notice! We are about to announce a profoundly sad piece of news.”

The broadcast’s voice seemed to carry a hint of choking.

Wen Shi guessed something and remained indifferent, even feeling a bit amused.

“As the factory manager was still absent, a dormitory supervisor went to search for him. Just now, the dormitory supervisor found the manager’s body, which had not yet cooled down, in the office!”

The amusement faded, and Wen Shi furrowed his brows. A detailed death notice was not a good sign.

“Based on the on-site investigation, we suspect that it was an inside job. We have identified the prime suspect as Jian Qingrong. Surveillance footage shows that he was the last person to see the manager today.”

“According to our investigation, the suspect Jian Qingrong is currently missing. As the suspect has been affected by the original version of Beautiful Soul Elixir, his intelligence is not fully developed, and there must be other masterminds behind him. Any employee who can capture the suspects involved in this case will be rewarded with 1000 yuan and three doses of the enhanced version of Beautiful Soul Elixir.”

Masterminds, capture.

In other words, they needed to leave some room to maneuver.

This meant that within the scope of targeting Wen Shi, the restriction against players killing each other had been lifted. Now, he not only had to guard against Tu Bianxi, but also against his own teammates.

【Quick escape.】

Wen Shi sent a message to Jian Qingrong, giving detailed advice:【Don’t go outside. You might encounter monsters. The most dangerous place is the safest. Consider hiding in the manager’s office.】

Then, he messaged the original fourth-floor dormitory supervisor: 【I am responsible for the safety of the fourth-floor residents. Don’t do anything you shouldn’t.】

He subtly hinted to the dormitory supervisor not to meddle in capturing Jian Qingrong.

As expected, Wen Shi received another warning of an increase in favorability.

When passing by the office, Wen Shi couldn’t help but stop.

The yellowed walls were covered with numerous propaganda posters, displaying the glorious deeds of the Beautiful Soul ambassador. Since Jian Qingrong was transferred to Workshop Three, there were more and more of these posters here.

“Our factory employee Jian Qingrong took care of his bedridden father year after year, living frugally, donating money every month, and even donating blood twice as often as others…”

After scanning through the posters and pondering for a moment, Wen Shi asked the sixth-floor residents behind him, “Does the factory conduct medical check-ups?”

Everyone nodded.

“Where do they conduct blood donations and medical check-ups?”

“The sanatorium.”

When he further inquired about the sanatorium, the sixth-floor residents just shook their heads, indicating that they didn’t remember. Wen Shi didn’t feel disappointed. At least he could confirm one thing: Jian Qingrong had visited the sanatorium more frequently than an average person.

Pointing at Jian Qingrong’s picture on the poster, Wen Shi asked, “You’ve had a chance encounter with him. Do you think he’s human?”

Under the light, the teenager hesitated unusually. “It’s hard to say.”

He lacked the desire spectrum that a normal human should have. He seemed like a cold, lifeless rock.

Wen Shi decided to go to the inspection area first to see what Jian Qingrong had left for him.

The booklet listed locations near the front, almost all on the ground. The inspection area was on the third floor, one of the dimmest spots in Workshop Three.

As he walked there, Wen Shi clearly felt the temperature drop significantly. In the middle of summer, it should have woken someone up, but he couldn’t help feeling drowsy, and his eyelids drooped.

“Big Brother,” the teenager called him.

It felt like he tripped down the stairs in a dream, and after a severe palpitation, Wen Shi rubbed his eyes.

The booklet indeed warned against being on duty alone, and it wasn’t an exaggeration.

The stairs were right ahead.

Standing beside the stairs was a middle-aged man whom Wen Shi recognized as the chef from the cafeteria who served meals to interns. Surprisingly, the chef had set up a small stall there and cheerfully said, “Take care of this uncle’s night shift business?”

In front of the chef’s stall were the two men and one woman who had tried to follow Wen Shi earlier. One male player was lying on the ground with his limbs severed and his ears cut off, blood continuously flowing from the wounds.

The chef was definitely human. The factory wouldn’t let monsters work there.

According to the duty rules, Wen Shi had to help if it was a person in need. He approached without paying attention to the two men and one woman, and casually replied with a smile, “Sure.”

On top of the pushcart hung the food hygiene license. Below, there was a pot of small red dumplings similar to the ones the archives administrator and his son were eating.

The aroma was enticing, and a faint meaty scent invaded his nose, affecting his senses.

The administrator, Old Zhao, kept swallowing saliva. “The chef makes the best soup dumplings.”

Wen Shi glanced at him with a stern look, and Old Zhao immediately closed his mouth.

Wen Shi: “Can I pay later?”

The chef was easy-going. “Sure, just come to the cafeteria tomorrow and swipe your meal card.”

He took out a price list.

Wen Shi had meal cards given by the fourth-floor residents, so he handed one directly to the chef for payment.

“Reminder, you have five seconds to choose the items you like.”

The price list had many options.

【Specialties: Soup dumplings; Tomato and scrambled eggs; Braised spare ribs.

Main course: Rice; Steamed buns; Bread.

Snacks: Braised crispy rice; Chocolate.

Medicines: Antibiotics; Oral collagen solution.

Beautiful Soul Elixir: Original version; Improved version.】

Wen Shi glanced roughly through it, and two seconds had already passed.

“Have you decided what you want?” the chef asked with a smile, seemingly unafraid of the group of thugs following Wen Shi.

The two players from Tu Bianxi’s team were trying to stop their companion’s bleeding while waiting for Wen Shi to meet the same fate.

“3… 2…” The game thoughtfully started the countdown.

In the last second, Wen Shi pointed at the antibiotics, “This one.”

The smile on the chef’s face faded slightly, “Have you made up your mind? Medicine can be harmful. You’re still young, and if you feel unwell, you can take some…”

Wen Shi interrupted his incessant talking, “Just this one.”

The chef’s smile vanished completely. He reluctantly returned the card after swiping it.

Wen Shi didn’t leave immediately. Instead, he observed the male player on the ground, who was bleeding to the point of shock. Wen Shi frowned, realizing a dangerous problem: healing potions were ineffective during the night shift.

The chef carried the male player like carrying a wild boar, and the two other players dared not stop him. They could only watch as the chef stuffed the player into a metal bucket and then placed it beside a distant machine.

When Wen Shi came to Workshop Three yesterday afternoon and fought with Hai Sheng, he was tripped by a metal bucket containing corpses used to feed monsters, all the work of the chef.

“When something is full, it won’t cause trouble for you.” The chef dropped a line and left after closing the stall.

The remaining two players wanted to strike up a conversation with Wen Shi but were deterred by the people around him. In the end, they gave up on the idea.

Wen Shi knew they wanted to ask why he chose antibiotics. Since the chef had already left, he said a few unrelated words, “The pushcart has a food hygiene license hanging on it, proving that the chef doesn’t sell poisonous stuff. Overseer Zhao emphasized that drinking alcohol is prohibited during the night shift.”

“I see.” The female player closed her eyes. The chef, who only sold safe food, might have added alcohol to the food. However, antibiotics and alcohol couldn’t coexist, making antibiotics the only safe food that wouldn’t trigger the ‘night shift rule.’

Their teammate chose the soup dumplings, and the chef asked him to eat them immediately. Now it seemed like they were pretty much wine-filled dumplings.

In fact, given a little more time, it wouldn’t be difficult to figure out the situation, but unfortunately, they only had five seconds.

As the pushcart left, the area near the stairs suddenly appeared empty. Wen Shi stepped onto the first step.

【Your Soul Purity decreased by 2.】

He took another step.

【Your Soul Purity decreased by 3.】

Ahead, there were at least a dozen more steps on the staircase. At the end of the stairs, a monster appeared from who knows where, squatting on the ground. When its mouth twitched, a piece of rotten flesh fell from its face and rolled down the stairs to Wen Shi’s feet.

The iron staircase steps felt like they were suspended in mid-air. As Wen Shi turned around, he found solace in the sight of a substantial crowd behind, rekindling his feeling of safety.

He put on the makeshift protective suit he exchanged from Hai Sheng using the passbook.

Once it was on his body, warmth enveloped his skin again, but his Soul Purity continued to decline, although much slower this time, decreasing by only a fraction.

With the speed of a hundred-meter sprint, Wen Shi ran up the stairs with a clatter. In just a few seconds, he stood in front of the monster.

“?” Unexpectedly managed to come up.

The people behind, carrying weapons, also followed.

The monster didn’t want to get beaten, so it changed its arrogant demeanor, turned around, and rushed into the iron door at the back. Strangely, it seemed as if it didn’t have a physical form and disappeared directly at the entrance.

There was a large box hanging on the door, with two white seals on it. One seal was for the door, and the other had words written on it: “For Aaron’s eyes only.”

This should be the gift that Jian Qingrong left for him.

The teenager who had been quiet all this time suddenly grabbed Wen Shi’s arm. “Something’s not right about this place.”

The father and son also seemed frightened. The hugged each other and trembled.

Whether he wanted this gift or not, the inspection area was behind the door, and Wen Shi had to break the seal to patrol.

Risks and rewards were interconnected. The teenager understood Wen Shi’s decision from his eyes and let go of his hand, no longer stopping him.

“No matter what gift it is, it can’t compare to mine.” In the light, the silver ends of the boy’s hair seemed even colder and sharper than Old Zhao’s paper-cutting knife. “I can lend my strength to my Big Brother. I’m the best person for my Big Brother.”

Possessiveness was an innate instinct of demons.

Wen Shi tore open the seal and untied the cord on the door.

He could faintly hear some sound coming from the box. Wen Shi took a step back, took a deep breath, and finally opened the box.

Before this, he had prepared himself for a monster to jump out from inside.

A faint smell of decay came out, and in the not-so-good light, Wen Shi saw what was inside: a corpse tied up like a rice dumpling.

The skeleton struggled desperately, its withered face showing a mix of fierceness and helplessness.

“What is this?” The teenager came closer.

Wen Shi remained silent for a moment and said, “The gift-giver’s father.”

In the teenager’s long life, it was the first time he felt astonished.

That was right. The box didn’t contain anything else but Jian Qingrong’s father, the Old Man Ghost from Room 401.

Beside the skeleton, there was a delicate black card: Weapon.

Implicitly, it meant that Wen Shi should use the Old Man Ghost as a weapon, and at critical moments, he could even use it as a hidden weapon.

Standing on the stairs, from this angle, Wen Shi could see the propaganda posters on the nearby wall. He vividly remembered the records about Jian Qingrong’s filial deeds, how he had taken care of his sick father for years, going up and down the stairs, and so on.


Jian Qingrong, you sure are a devoted son!

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